9Now Can Stream Live TV In Regional Australia, Court Says

The NSW Supreme Court has knocked back an attempt by Australia's regional broadcaster WIN to prevent Channel Nine from live streaming its TV broadcasts through 9Now, saying the online service is not a direct competitor to WIN's digital TV transmissions.

SMH reports that WIN's attempt at getting an injunction against the 9Now streaming service has failed. WIN attempted to stop Nine from freely allowing regional Australia to access 9Now — leaning on the government's existing "75 per cent" reach rule, that says broadcasters can not service more than 75 per cent of Australia's population to prevent media monopolies.

The reach rule and its associated "two out of three" counterpart, which prevents media companies from simultaneously operating a TV station, newspaper and radio station iin the same market, are earmarked for change but won't be addressed by Australia's communications minister Mitch Fifield until after the July 2 Federal election.

The case between WIN and Nine Entertainment has been running since February when 9Now launched, and the judgment by Justice David Hammerschlag yesterday made it clear that the court believes digital services like streaming video on demand are distinctly separate to the live analogue and digital TV broadcasts running in Australia since the 1950s. Nine's competitors also stream live TV through Plus7 and TenPlay across Australia.

The program supply agreement between Nine and WIN as it currently exists, gives regional broadcaster WIN exclusive rights to transmit the Nine Network's free-to-air TV in licence areas, but the court's judgment says that live streaming is separate to broadcast and must be negotiated separately — and that Nine has no obligation to do so.

This legal setback, plus its similar ongoing trouble with securing rights for HD channels, puts WIN at a significant disadvantage to Nine but gives regional Australia equal footing to the cities in accessing 9Now streaming — at least before their inequality in access to high-speed internet is taken into account. [SMH]

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